No. 10 Baylor men’s tennis looks ahead to rematch with No. 3 TCU

Junior Tadeas Paroulek blasts the ball back toward his Seminole opponent during a non-conference match against No. 9 Florida State University on Jan. 28. Kenneth Prabhakar | Photo Editor

By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer

On the heels of a four-game losing streak, No. 10 Baylor men’s tennis is headed to Chicago for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships to try and get back on track.

“Given the schedule that we’ve had already to this point, there are really going to be no surprises for us as far as what the level [of competition] is,” head coach Michael Woodson said. “I think our guys are starting to understand what’s necessary to be able to put themselves in position to have success.”

The Bears (5-5) have played against six different top-20 opponents in their last seven matches, the longest streak in the NCAA right now. After taking down, then-No. 9 Florida State University during ITA Kickoff Weekend, the green and gold clinched its spot in the Indoor Championship for the 12th-straight year.

Following the win against FSU, the Bears lost their next four matches in a row against mostly higher ranked foes. Baylor faced all ranked teams with three of the four being in the top-five. The green and gold was able to stay competitive, but Woodson said inexperience on a young roster has prevented recent match victories.

“We’re not losing because we lack talent, we’re losing because we lack experience and composure in some bigger moments,” Woodson said. “That comes from really good habits; good discipline is great training. I’m encouraged by what I’m seeing with how they’re answering the call, and they’re not backing down. Maybe the results don’t show yet, but I think it’s just a matter of time.”

Last year, Baylor was dominant in the tournament and managed to get to the semi-final before losing to the University of Tennessee, 4-2. This year, the Bears drew the 14th seed and will have to face Big 12 rival No. 3 Texas Christian University in the first round.

The Bears have already faced TCU (8-0) this year and lost the match 4-1, so for Baylor, the match is more than just a tournament game, but a chance at revenge.

“It’s important to be aware of how difficult [the playing field] is and I think we’ve put together a schedule where we basically only play the best teams,” Woodson said. “That’s exactly what we feel like it needs to be at Baylor, that’s what these guys come here to play.”

The Bears will have their shot at redemption on Friday with first serve scheduled for 9 a.m., the earliest match of the season. Baylor is guaranteed three matches over the course of the weekend.

“It’s always fun to be able to play one of our biggest rivals, so we’re really looking forward to the opportunity. I think it’s going to be a really good match,” Woodson said.